Good morning, CEO Scott Lewis here. Randy Dotinga can’t do this each of the six days we publish (we don’t want to go out looking for him someday and find him hunched over, bobbing and repeating “got to do the Morning Report, got to do the Morning Report …”). Plus, I just returned from a great trip I wanted to mention so you get me today.

As always, the crew needed no help from me to get the job done (and I need a lot of help catching up). So let’s both learn about the day’s news:

Not long ago, reporter Rob Davis and our photographer Sam Hodgson got some coffee and stayed up late to find out if the daily reports on road closures Caltrans gives public safety agencies were accurate.

They weren’t. This was upsetting to some who care about firetrucks and others being able to get where they need to go as fast as possible.

Now Davis has revealed a practice that might be upsetting to businesses this time. The agency appears to be selectively levying fines when a contractor fails to re-open a local traffic artery on time when its work is complete. So, if a company is late they may or may not receive a pretty hefty fine.

Don’t expect the agency to make it clear: “Though a Caltrans spokesman offered two reasons why the fine wouldn’t be levied, Caltrans’ actions have contradicted both.”

In the newsroom, we believe that everyone has a story. If you try to tell someone’s story from time to time, you can learn something more about your community as a whole. Today, Adrian Florido captures the life of Marie “Peter” Ettlesen, who was so gregarious, she could befriend a goose — and she did.

From the “In case you missed it this weekend” file: For several month’s, real estate and economics writer Rich Toscano has been expanding on an important point. We all look at the unemployment rate to see how healthy our economy is, but it’s a lagging indicator.

He explains in what is simply another edition of the best analytical breakdown of the jobs situation in San Diego than his series of graphs.

Remember a story we published recently about Qualcomm and other companies and scientists studying animals to mimic them in technology developments? Literally, it’s called biomimicry and San Diego is turning into a hub of such exploration. US News and World Report just highlighted SDSU scientist Asfaw Beyene for his work trying to create morphing blades for wind turbines.

“The idea was born from a simple observation of a fish in an aquarium,” Beyene told the magazine.

Crossing the border from Mexico has gotten more difficult so migrants have been turning to more and more sophisticated (and violent) groups to make the trek. The Union-Tribune has a vivid story up today about the violence and changes taking place in the desert.

As I mentioned, I got to take a trip to Aspen last week. It was to join about 40 others for the Aspen Institute’s Forum on Communications and Society. I sat next to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and legendary newspaper editor John Carroll during the roundtable discussion on what’s happening to the news industry and what it means for society.

I was hardly in my element. Every time I sneezed I wondered if I was doing it correctly. But everyone there was gracious. Our staff’s success breaking stories and having impact here as still a relatively new organization has inspired many around the country.

We certainly have a lot of challenges, but we’ve helped significantly advance the notion that at least part of the community’s investigative news needs can be filled with a dedicated and passionate nonprofit news source. And some of the smartest people I’ve ever met wanted to ask me tough questions about how we got here and, more importantly, where we are headed.

I did my best. A hearty thanks to our nearly 1,000 members whose financial support has made it possible for San Diego to lead the way and inspire people everywhere.

Now it’s back to work.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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